Researching the Galloway Hoard at the National Museum of Scotland

The Galloway Hoard is one of the most important and fascinating archaeological discoveries made in Scotland in recent decades, and has been the subject of a recent exhibition and ongoing research.

The hoard consists of over 100 objects of gold, silver, glass, crystal, stone, and even fabric and soil, with a fabric wrapped silver-gilt vessel used as a container for other objects being the most visually striking find. The hoard was discovered in 2014 and acquired by the National Museum of Scotland in 2017 after a public fundraising campaign.

The Galloway Hoard silver-gilt vessel with textile wrappings. Image copyright Historic Environment Scotland

Buried in around AD900, the hoard contains a range of objects, some over 100 years old at the time of their deposition. The burial was in two layers, the most valuable items being placed in the lower layer. Among the objects were items of religious significance, including an Anglo Saxon pectoral cross and, less overtly, small balls of earth containing flecks of precious metal which, it has been suggested, may represent souvenirs from a saintly shrine – the earth rolled around to gather the traces of that environment and treasured as a keepsake or even a form of relic.

You can find out more about the hoard and the latest research into it on the NMS website:

The Galloway Hoard: hoards and the Viking Age in historical context

The Galloway Hoard vessel

Galloway Hoard: learning resources

Golden moments researching the Galloway Hoard part one: tracing golden threads (blog)

Golden moments researching the Galloway Hoard part two: hidden constellations of gold (blog on the ‘dirt balls’)

The Galloway Hoard: a personal reflection (blog)

Who were the Galloway ‘Vikings’? The surprising story of the runes in the Galloway Hoard (blog)

A wonderful exhibition about the hoard was held at NMS between May and September 2021 and is now on tour. It will be at the Kirkcudbright Galleries between 9th October 2021 and 10th July 2022, and at Aberdeen Art Gallery from 30th July to 23rd October 2022. Find out more about the exhibition at

The ‘dirt balls’ in the exhibition (image: Antony Lee)

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